BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The man at the center of a wildly popular podcast based on his 2001 Baltimore murder conviction now waits for an appeals court to decide if he should get a new shot at clearing his name.
Derek Valcourt has more on efforts by Adnan Syed to win an appeal.
Many fans of the podcast argue he didn’t get a fair trial. Now his attorneys are making a last ditch effort to have the court take another look at his case.
Thanks to the Serial podcast, millions of Americans are now familiar with Adnan Syed’s conviction in the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend–gifted 17-year-old Woodlawn High School student Hae Min Lee.
A fellow classmate pointed the finger at Syed, who was sentenced to life in prison, but still maintains his innocence.
The popular podcast has helped shed new light on the case.
“I want to run by you some new information I’ve learned in the past week,” the podcast said.
Sixteen years later, Syed’s attorneys are using some of that new information in court documents, pleading to allow a new appeal in the case.
Much of the appeal focuses on Syed’s now-deceased trial attorney Cristina Gutierrez, saying she failed as a lawyer because she never followed up with Syed at the time of the murder and that she never inquired about a plea deal for Syed–something Syed now insists he requested.
In a lengthy response, the attorney general’s office argues Adnan Syed’s attorney had no obligation to ask for a plea deal, that prosecutors may not have been willing to offer one and that Syed, believing he was innocent, may not have accepted a plea deal anyway.
“We won’t know whether to believe him, that he said to his lawyer, ‘Look, see if you can work something out here,'” said Byron Warnken, www.warnkenlaw.com.
Legal expert Byron Warnken says these kinds of appeals rarely succeed, but:
“It certainly seems like there is an issue relating to the failure to pursue this alibi witness on the part of Cristina Gutierrez,” he said.
The state had until Wednesday to file their response to the application for an appeal. With that done, it could be months before Syed finds out what the court decides.
Similar appeals by Syed have been shot down by lower courts.
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